DC Water hunts lost water with analytics

Predictive analytics and AI are helping the District of Columbia’s water authority discover water main and sewer pipe breaks proactively.

DC Water hunts lost water with analytics
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The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) delivers about 900 million gallons of drinking water a day via 1,300 miles of pipes, and operates the worlds largest advanced wastewater treatment plant, processing an average of about 300 million gallons a day. Thomas Kuczynski’s mission is to deliver analytics throughout the organization, or, as he puts it, to get out of the report business.

“I want to be in the data business,” Kuczynski says. “I want to be here exposing a reliable, auditable source of information to the people that need to make the decisions.”

Kuczynski is CIO and vice president of IT at DC Water and president of DC Water’s wholly owned nonprofit affiliate, Blue Drop, which is responsible for generating non-ratepayer revenue to help minimize the impact of rate increases on DC Water customers.

“We’ve made a significant investment in certain areas, largely focused on what we refer to as ‘non-revenue water,’” Kuczynski says. “We’re spending a lot of time on the operations side building predictive analytics tools for predicting water main breaks so we can be more proactive in eliminating them rather than responding to them. We’re doing some work now in what is typically referred to in the electric industry as ‘outage management.’”

Much of the focus of DC Water’s efforts is on eliminating “unaccounted for water,” which is the difference between the water pumped into the system, and the water consumed, measured by an advanced meter reading (AMR) system. Some of that unaccounted for water is the result of legitimate uses, such as the city’s fire suppression efforts via DC Water’s more than 9,000 fire hydrants.

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